Mentalization and relationships with parents as predictors of eating disordered behavior

Lily Rothschild-Yakar, Rachel Levy-Shiff, Rachel Fridman-Balaban, Eitan Gur, Daniel Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our study postulated that deficient mentalization abilities and maladaptive relationships with parents may be risk factors in the genesis of eating disorder (ED). The study examined 34 female inpatients with anorexia nervosa-binging/purging type and 35 matched non-ED controls. Data indicated that anorexia nervosa-binging/purging type patients presented significantly lower mentalization levels and reported significantly lower quality of current relationships with their parents, compared with non-ED controls. The combination of the mentalization and relationship quality variables showed an additive effect for some ED-related symptoms but not others. Moreover, high mentalization reduced ED symptomatology even if relationship quality with parents was deficient. Findings supported the role of low mentalization as a risk factor, and of high mentalization as a protective factor, in the formation of ED.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-507
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Eating disorders
  • mentalization
  • reflective function
  • relationships with parents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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